The average American doesn’t have the bandwidth for devilish details about public policy. Politicians know if they “control the narrative”—make an issue as simple as humanly possible—they can manipulate public opinion. Millionaires and billionaires = oppressors. Iraq = not our problem anymore. The public can handle the truth; they just don’t have time for it. They’ve got money to make, kids to raise, bills to pay, football to watch, spouses to deceive, etc. And that’s why, more than a year after ATF-enabled drug thugs gunned down Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the ATF Fast and Furious Scandal is still flying below the radar. It’s too damn complicated. But there’s a chance F&F might “pop,” now that Congressional investigators have uncovered a smoking gun . . .

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will face the music in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Ahead of that confrontation, the Department of Justice did a Friday night document dump. As you can guess from the timing of the information release (into the weekend news cycle void), the material was full of DOJ not-good. dailycaller.com:

An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”

That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”

Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.

Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”

Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.

“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.”

In sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2011, Eric Holder claimed he’d only learned of Fast and Furious a “few weeks” before his appearance. Holder later backpedalled, redefining a “few weeks” as a “couple of months.” The newly released email indicates that Holder knew about Fast and Furious with 24 hours of Terry’s death.

No wonder Wilkinson told the Oversight Committee that he was exercising his Fifth Amendment right not to “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” (i.e. incriminate himself) when asked what his boss knew and when he knew it. Same deal for the DOJ. Yesterday, the Justice Department refused to answer press questions about Holder’s knowledge of Fast and Furious.

When he appears before Issa’s investigation, Holder could try and throw his Deputy Chief of Staff under the bus (“He told me no such thing”) or blame faulty memory (“I don’t recall that conversation”). But there’s plenty of evidence that officials at the highest level of the Department of Justice were well aware of Fast and Furious, wherein the Bureau arranged for Mexican gun smugglers to purchase thousands of firearms from U.S. gun stores.

Why wouldn’t they be? Ah, well, also ahead of the Thursday showdown, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have released a report on the ATF’s “botched sting”:  “Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona.” [Click here to read the report.] In short, Bush did it too. More to the point, it’s all about Arizona. In their official version of events (based on the incomplete, withheld and dubious evidence provided by the DOJ) . . .

It is clear that ATF agents in Phoenix and prosecutors in the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office embarked on a deliberate strategy not to arrest suspected straw purchasers while they attempted to make larger cases against higher-level targets.

The man in question (i.e. the sacrificial lamb): Former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, the only Obama administration official who’s resigned due to Fast and Furious fallout. Although Burke was clearly a driving force behind both Operation Fast and Furious and the coverup after Agent Terry’s murder, the bombastic bureaucrat may not go quietly into that long good night. In fact, Burke could switch sides and blow the lid off this entire scandal.

If so, he better get on with it. What with the smoking gun email implicating Holder and the looming confrontation with Issa, Burke’s potential finger-pointing is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Make no mistake: the Democrats whitewash won’t wash. To wit: Acting Attorney General Gary Grindler’s claim he was out of the F&F loop. According to the report, Holder’s number two told congressional investigators in December 2011 that he was “extraordinarily confident” the ATF officials briefing him in March 2010 didn’t say anything about letting U.S. gun store guns walk into Mexico.

That is just an absurd concept. If that had been told to me, I would not only have written something, but done something about it. … I would have stopped it.

As foxnews.com points out, “Previously-released notes from the briefing show Grindler jotted down the name ‘Operation Fast and Furious.’ In addition, he was told that at least two suspects used cash to buy nearly 450 weapons costing tens of thousands of dollars, and he noted many guns bought in the United States were surfacing in Mexico.”

I don’t want to get lost in the weeds here. Suffice it to say, TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have the bandwidth to see both the broader point (the DOJ are a bunch of lying scumbags who feel free to operate outside the confines of the U.S. Constitution) and the even broader point (the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was part of an extra-legal government-wide conspiracy to f around with Mexican politics).

The second part of that equation of illegality will be lost on the American public. The idea that the U.S. Attorney General conspired to coverup a “botched sting” by well-meaning ATF agents that inadvertently but avoidably led to a Border Patrol Agent’s death is about “good” as it’s going to get. Too bad; it’s going to be a great show. The fact that the AG is even showing up at Issa’s hearing—instead of resigning in disgrace–guarantees spectacular political theater.

I’m sure White House spin doctors are hard at work figuring out a way to protect the Commander in Chief from Holder’s implosion—hoping like Hell that Eric doesn’t drop the big one. Yes, I informed the President of the United States about Operation Fast and Furious. Can you imagine? And imagination is where that one will stay.

The big question in my mind: will Congress be satisfied with Holder’s scalp or will they move on to expose the Obama administration’s collusion with Mexican drug cartels? If not, will the mainstream media pay attention when former Sinaloa cartel jefe and current U.S. prisoner Vicente Zambada-Niebla spills the beans about Uncle Sam’s assistance in the family business? Ominously for Obama, Zambada Niebla’s trial is now set for October.

Meanwhile, click here and bookmark the Committee’s website. They’ll be live-streaming Holder’s testimony. Smoking gun or not, it will either be a historical moment in the defense of the rule of law or just another brick in a stonewall erected by the President who promised transparency to a gullible, time-pressed public.

29 Responses to ATF Death Watch 135: The Smoking Gun

  1. I don’t mean to pick hairs, but learning about an agent’s death and and knowing about F&F aren’t exactly that same. Don’t misunderstand, I think he certainly did know, and probably green-lighted F&F – I am just not sure this “proves” it. Unless I am missing something?

    • From the article:


      That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”

      Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.

      Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”

      Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.

      “I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.”

  2. Robert,

    Have you ever watched the BBC documentary ‘Century of the Self’ that covers how governments and corporations mold and manipulate the masses of sheeple using advertising and public relations? It can be somewhat difficult to track down and is a classic case of something that was created and later influential players took moves to keep it away from the public. DVDs can be found and short segments are on youtube. The first hour or two of the four hour series gives the gist of it. Fortunately, the Internet now exists and is the modern day Gutenberg Printing Press.

  3. This whole F&F thing just makes me sick. I just can’t believe our government is so incompetent. Then this whole “blue wall of silence” thing is just chilling. Why are they all circling the wagons around Holder? He is a liability, for the black panther case, for this case , for several others, he is nothing but a political liability.

    I really don’t get why Obama does not just throw Holder under the bus already. This is an election year and if Romney is worth his salt then he will use this the bash the hell out of the Obama administration.

    Obama and his people could really easily tell AG Holder to fall on his sword, stay out of the lime lite for a year or two while they guarantee him a cushy highly paid job in the political establishment in Washington or Chicago. The whole thing would blow over in just a couple of weeks. As it stands now this is a ticking time bomb of an issue and sooner or later it will go off, leading to a real big embarrassment for Mr. O right in time for the election.

    • And is that your concern? It strikes me as odd that you think Obama should can Holder to save his election chances, yet you write as though you don’t like Obama – I don’t want to turn this into a campaign topic, but those two things are not congruent in my mind.

      • I don’t like Obama, I am saying this is WHY I do not like Obama. Putting myself in Obamas shoes I would have thrown Holder under the bus in a heartbeat if half the stuff out there about F&F is true. The fact that Obama did not throw Holder under the bus really speaks volumes about him and perhaps involvement of Government at higher levels than the AG. Perhaps the rumors about F&F being a back door ruse to justify “more gun control” are true.The bottom line is that a failed ATF Op ended up in the death of at least one LEO in the US that we know of and god knows how many others and NO ONE has been forced to fall on their sword yet.The Chicago machine that Mr. O has modeled his administration on is simple: Even if the big guy messes up, someone lower is forced to fall on their sword while guaranteed a position at a later time that offers some level of financial or political security so they STFU and take a hit for the team. That tells me two things; this is bigger than we think and that the Oministration is brushing this off and praying the media will shield them on this.

        This is like a gift from God to Romney or whoever ends up the Republican challenger as a political issue.

        • Holder is still in place in order to protect President Obama or Obama advisors.

          Holder goes down and President Obama is done for.

          Anyone who thinks Holder is still AG because of loyalty does not understand how vicious politics really is.

    • With the short attention span of the average American male this will blow over, with out throwing Holder under the bus, the day after the super bowl. With the packed-full-of-stupidity brains cells, there will be no room left to re-insert the idea that we live under Tyranny. The brain cells will not be available again until January 2013 when the realization of what they’ve done sets in. Then they’ll prepare to do it all over again, Ad infinitum.

  4. I don’t understand the Fast & Furious furor on this site. I thought the idea was Guns Don’t Kill People, People Do. That the free availability of weapons are not responsible for the criminal actions of people using weapons.

    There’s more than a tinge of anti-government and anti-law enforcement hysteria here.

    • Guns don’t kill people, people do.However, that doesn’t mean I hand guns over to bloodthirsty Mexican gangs, even if “they are going to get the weapons anyway.”

      Our problem is that the US Government aided and abetted the murder of several (at least 2) American citizens and dozens (if not hundreds) of Mexicans. They may have died from some other means had the government not insisted on the sale of guns to their buyers, but the US Government would not have had responsibility in it.

      So yes, guns don’t kill people, people do. For that reason, I don’t sell my guns to people that are highly likely to use them to kill other people.

      I kind of expect the government to act the same way.

    • I would imagine the problem with Fast & Furious from a 2nd Amendment point of view is this: The administration knows that most of the serious guns in cartel hands come from official US sales to Mexico, Guatamala and other latin american countries, together with some off-shore shipments to Mexico of fully automatic weapons. Seeing no apparent good purpose to encouraging more successful straw-purchase-and-smuggle operations, people ask “what was the actual purpose of Fast & Furious?” A common answer is that the intent was to highlight the supposed dangers of US gun dealers and US-made guns. An example of the logic includes this: 50 cal rifles are not used in crime. They were made part of the Fast & Furious operation, however. Wouldn’t it be delightful, from a gun-grabber point of view, if DoJ could manage to show some crimes committed using US-sourced 50 cal’s? Who better to recruit for this PR need than Mexican gangsters? They seem inclined to shoot people daily with any gun that happens to be lying around. What could take years to happen in Phoenix could be encouraged to happen in weeks or months in Mexico. This imputed goal of the program seems a reasonable suspicion, for the program had no other rational useful goal that people can comprehend. Merely proving a gangster killed someone with a particular gun has no law-enforcement value whatever, save that it would provide fuel back home in the US to light up the fire of gun-restriction activists.

    • “There’s more than a tinge of anti-government and anti-law enforcement hysteria here.”

      Have you ever purchased a firearm? Gone through the background check, the paperwork, waiting periods, and been subjected to a load of rules because it’s “all about public safety”?
      All that went right out the window and our own government agency tasked with administering those laws sells guns to some of the worst, ruthless, and outlaw people in this hemisphere. They violated laws and went over the top with selling guns to these people who they knew to be criminals. Then covered it up while planting news stories about “all these gun shops sell to anybody” and hinting at new restrictions on the way.

      How’s that for a tinge?

  5. This article badly needs a reality check. Holder knowing about Brian Terry’s death in no way proves he knew about Fast and Furious. We all know that he lied about that and we all know he will get away with it. As to the assertion that Holder will be held to account and become a liability to Obama, that is just delusional. If Holder were really that vulnerable he wouldn’t be showing up for these hearings. His appearance before the committee indicates his contempt for the proceedings and his supreme confidence regarding his own legal and political invulnerability.

    As the sceptics have been pointing out all along, the fix is in. The establishment journoliars don’t care about this scandal, the Retardpublicans are too busy nominating the latest empty suit loser presidential candidate and the American Sheeple are distracted with their daily wallowing in “panem et circenses”. The current regime has little to fear from “Off to Davos” Darrel Issa.

      • No offense, but I wish it was almost any other member of congress than Issa leading this investigation. This person has a history that makes me question if he has any idea what either the truth or laws are.

    • Dyspeptic: It’s a bit unsettling to me that the two of us can be so skeptical of the politics, yet for different reasons. There is a surfeit of angles justifying cynicism! What surprises me is how quietly the journalists and Congress let go a more serious act, the failure of Holder to give the go-ahead to a deeper investigation of voter intimidation in Philadelphia by the New Black Panthers. It seems to me a more important action to probe, even just to reveal the claims as false, if that is the case. The evidence seemed substantial yet no prosecution followed. Clearly the problem is that the construction of the Republican voting coalition could not function without giving big capital the leading say in the party’s conduct. After all, the other very large pot of money (government employee unions) was already taken. The ultimate reality is that middle aged cynics just aren’t willing (able?) to take control of the party by funding it. We’re fated to endure many more empty suits wired to big finance and the Fortune 100. Only issues of broad interest (the the funders of the party) will be energetically pushed.

    • We all know that he lied about that and we all know he will get away with it.

      DMAWG, that’s right. As you noted and I’ve stated before, the fix is in. Holder is teflon unless someone has pictures of him with a goat, or maybe a note from him to one of his underlings saying “yeah, F&F is a great idea! Send ’em some fifties and bring back some chips and guacamole.”

      I’m not saying that such a note never existed, but if it did, it’s now long gone.

  6. So F&F is Bush’s fault now, eh?

    Funny. I read an article the other day that said that Obama had actually reduced the deficit- but the only way they could make it stick was by claiming that Bush was president in 2009.

  7. The politicians must “…make an issue as simple as humanly possible—they can manipulate public opinion. Rich people = oppressors. Iraq = not our problem anymore. The public can handle the truth; they just don’t have time for it.”

    OK, let me make this issue as simple as possible:

    Eric Holder and Barack Obama and their flunkies in the BATFE developed and used the Fast & Furious gun running to Mexico as a way to demonize American gun owners and FFL dealers, to get their gun control agenda moving “under the radar”. They are guilty of being accessories before and after the fact to the murders of US law enforcement officers and hundreds of Mexican citizens.

    How’s that? Does that simplify the issue? Holder and Obama are accessories to murder.

  8. I understand how this works. We suspend belief while The One is president and dump all responsibility on the next guy. Should be interesting next spring.

  9. Our Federal Govt. is operating so far outside of its design parameters that this type of discussion becomes futile. In my opinion the place to begin is eliminating tax which would force massive reductions in power and programs, bringing the govt. more in line with the founders structure. Only then can a discussion vis-a-vis federal and state govts. become worthwhile.

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